Alwaght- For a long time, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been dreaming of restoring the Soviet-time glory and power, a period in which Russia had deep influence and role in large part of the world and its footsteps were observable in any important international developments. Part of the lost influence of Moscow is in West Asia and Arab world towards whose revival Putin is stepping quietly and cautiously.
Yemen, once a setting of competition between the Western and Eastern blocs, is one of the regions that in recent months Moscow has shown a desire to increase its role in its war developments. In recent days, the Russian government had invited the officials of Ansarullah, the key power player in Yemen, to visit Russia, and a delegation from Yemen headed by Mohammed Abdulsalam met and discussed with Mikhail Bogdanov, the deputy foreign minister of Russia last week.
Commenting on contain of the discussion, Yemeni officials said that Moscow and Sana'a share a view to counter the American project from which many world countries have suffered.
The Yemenis called Russia's invitation a sign of a change in the country's policies and said that they intend to coalesce with Russia and China to counter Washington's plans. This comes as the tensions between Washington and its Western allies on the one hand and Russia and China and their allies on the other hand over the crisis in Ukraine and Taiwan have increased sharply in recent months, and this competition of powers has provided an opportunity for the Yemenis to seek neutralizing the US and its regional puppets' plots by getting closer to the Eastern bloc. The support of powers such as Russia and China, which have veto right in the UN Security Council, can strengthen the political weight of Ansarullah against the Saudi-led Arab aggression coalition.
Russian objectives in Yemen
Although Yemen's National Salvation Government (NSG) seeks to take advantage of international developments and boost its ties to some world powers, Moscow follows its own goals beyond cooperation with Ansarullah that controls the capital Sana'a and much of the north. Actually, Yemen is one of the countries that is gaining specific importance for the Russians. By inviting Ansarullah to Moscow, Russia wants to give international legitimacy to the NSG , and this issue can strengthen Ansarullah's position against Saudi Arabia.
Since launching its campaign in Ukraine, Russia has been pushing to restore its historical place in the face of the West. Yemen has a special position in this strategy. The country was divided into southern and northern parts, with the south being run by the Socialists who were backed by the Soviets. Russia has been away from a role in Yemen developments for three decades as the north and south united as the Soviet Union collapsed. But now that world conditions changed, Moscow eyes retaking its former spheres of influence.
After Ukraine war, Russia has been insistent to engage in broader relations with the Arab world and the frequent visits by Russian officials to the Arab states are an effort to revive the ties slackened in the past decades. With Yemen being in the center of the Arab world critical cases since 2015, Russia is motivated to rebuild the Arab trust by helping to settle Yemen crisis. Russia's distance from the Arab world for decades made these countries move towards improvement of ties with the West, and many Persian Gulf sheikhdoms are now acting as the American infantry in the region. Seeking a share in West Asia, the Russians are trying to bring Arabs into their camp for Moscow advantage in global rivalry with the West.
Additionally, for its rich energy resources and political position, Yemen is of great significance to Russia. Moscow is seeking influence and secure a share for itself in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf where the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel on the one hand and Iran on the other hand are competing. Some experts believe that Russia hopes to establish a naval military base on Yemen coast with relative stability in Yemen in order to gain access to the Red Sea and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. The importance of having a base in this region for Russia's geopolitical interests is increasing because Moscow considers southern Yemen as a gateway for extensive influence in the Horn of Africa, and this issue is more important at a time when Europe's borders with Russia are shut for transit. On the other hand, the decline of American influence in Yemen and the growing disputes between the UAE and Saudi Arabia as two allies of the war coalition in this country have provided the ground for Russia's powerful return to the region, and the Russians are seizing the opportunity very well. Russia has been longing to reach the Persian Gulf and warm waters for a long time, and now the current conditions have granted them the right ground to realize their dream.
Another important issue is that in recent months, Russia enhanced its relations with Iran to strategic-level coalition and this is motivating Moscow to set its policies in the Persian Gulf in tune with Tehran. In Syrian crisis, Russia and Iran presented a perfect example of cooperation and showed that with strategic alliance they can foil plots hatched by the West and implemented by its pawns. In Yemen, too, if they unite on a single front, they can put an end to one of the deepest crises in the current century.
A wake-up call to Riyadh
Another reason for Russia seeking an active role in Yemen has to do with the world policy after Ukraine war. The White House leaders are pushing Saudi Arabia for increase in its oil output to fill the void caused by the war, something contrary to the Russian favor. The Russians are concerned about the tight closeness of the Saudis to Washington especially in energy area and try to send a warning to Riyadh by swaying Yemen developments and backing Ansarullah that if the Saudis seek to appease the West with oil production hike, Moscow will change its Yemen stance to the Saudi detriment. After all, Russia is exploiting the energy crisis to punish the West and if the kingdom disrupts its plans, it will face Russian reaction.
The Russian policy for Yemen is based on reaching peace and security to expand relations with all political sides and get a toehold in the Red Sea and Bab-el-Mandab and cut the American influence for its rejuvenated role.